Cork versus Leather – Which is better?

Is cork better than leather?

Leather has been around for centuries, and it is still in great use today not only in the fashion but also other industries. We are starting to see a use of other alternative materials but not all are environmentally friendly.

Leather, in fact, is appealing not only because it is durable but also due to its aesthetic characteristics. It is smooth to the touch and is offered in many colors. On the downside, the production of leather is highly pollutant and cruel to animals. Due to the on-going demand for leather goods, it is no longer a by-product of meat, but animals are killed just to produce leather.

Sheep enjoying the free-range Cork Oak forrest

On the other hand, we have cork that has similar characteristics of leather without the need to harm the environment or animals. Cork is often associated with the making of corks for the wine bottles which is still the main use. However, the cork industry re-invented itself years ago and started successfully using “vegan leather” in other areas. The use has expanded to auto, NASA, fashion, and hospitality to just name a few.

Only the bark is extracted from the tree, allowing the tree to breathe and live many more years. It is one of the most natural sustainable materials in the world because the bark regenerates after approximately 9 years and can be harvested again and for many more years to come. Portugal is the biggest producer of cork.  The production of cork material is very simple and creates no water or air pollution.

Documentary and humanist photography projects

Leather vs. Cork in handbags and accessories:

While both leather and cork are durable and smooth to the touch, cork material matures nicely with use creating a natural patina. However, unlike leather, cork is extremely lightweight, water-resistant, hypoallergenic and easy to clean with mild soap and warm water. In addition, cork does not need to be treated with waxes or other chemical protectors.

Here are some facts about cork:

  • 100% vegan
  • The bark is harvested without harming the tree
  • Waste free in the extraction and production
  • No harsh chemicals are ever used
  • Cork oak forests are a habitat for rare and endangered plants and animals
  • One of the highest paid agricultural jobs
  • Biodegradable
Want to know more? Feel free to email us: